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US strikes down shopping cart patent suit

Supreme Court refuses to hear patent troll case alleging ownership of e-retail design

Law and regulation, IT Business

The US Supreme court yesterday said it would not hear a case alleging infringement of so-called “shopping-cart” patents, which lay out a process for selecting and paying for products online.

Chicago-based Soverain Software LLC claimed that online shopping site Newegg Inc had breached its patents and won a case at district level, but lost on appeal.

As the case reached the Supreme Court, Newegg said in its filing: “Petitioner's notorious 'shopping cart' patent merely applies the common sense concept of a shopping cart to the Internet,” Newegg said.

Trivial patent lawsuits are particularly prevalent in the US tech industry. In the smartphone sector, companies owning patents for industry-standard designs have used courts as a way to stifle competition.

A number of Bills currently before Congress propose curtailment of these practices by so-called patent assertion entities (PAEs), also known as “patent trolls”. One passed in December by the House of Representatives urges judges to award fees to the defendant if an action is deemed frivolous.